<img src="https://tctechcrunch2011.files.wordpress.com/2007/01/Edelman laptop debacle. Here's what he says:
Think about this: Microsoft dropped about $1500/laptop * 90 laptops + shipping (my rough estimate puts that at a little less than $150,000) to get some positive digital ink. That’s a fairly expensive campaign for the blogosphere, and by comparison if we assume that their boxed Vista product costs them about $20/unit, that same $150,000 could have been spent on seeding Vista to about 7500 bloggers.
So why didn’t they just send boxed product and a nice fruit basket? Well, as Dave wrote, apparently Vista hard to install and has hardware requirements that most “thought leaders” don’t have. Hell, half of them run Macs.
So there you have it. Microsoft was afraid that Vista would stink up the place. Therefore, they made sure that it came enclosed in a fancy new laptop that could run all of Vista’s graphical pomposity. Clever clever.